Introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do? My name is Aija Larry. I am a mother, a preschool teacher, as well as an artist. I recently figured out that, I could be all three. You see, I had stopped painting and creating for a couple of years. I was trying to figure out how to balance it all, and last year it all came together. It’s been the best feeling in the world. I feel like I’m showing my daughter that you should always follow your dreams.
Where are you from? I grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, but currently work and live in Chicago.
What does “being creative” mean to you?
“Being Creative” is complicated. For me, it’s being open minded and free spirited. When your being creative, your being innovative, your thinking outside of the box. When your being creative you are allowing your mind to roam freely, in order to create something new and exciting, but at the same time there is intentionality behind every step of the process.
Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating art was something you absolutely had to do? In first grade I was determined to be an art teacher ( I became a teacher who loves to create her own art). I loved to pull things out the recycling bin and use them to create things with (I still do). I would make cars out of shoe boxes and old CD’s for my barbies. I was constantly drawing and painting. It felt right to me. The world stops when I create. I am in-tune with myself. It’s an out of body experience that many don’t get to experience. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
I’m complicated, because I make two different types of art. When I create abstract paintings, I lay my table cloth down and put out my paints, turn on some music, and just grab a color. There is no game plan or premeditated idea. I squeeze the paint straight onto the canvas and start painting. I flow through the rest. I use the same paintbrush for the whole piece and never use water. When I create my more abstract pieces using recycled materials, I’m more intentional. There’s still no plan, just an idea in my head lol. I just go with it. I feel a piece out until I just get stuck or complete it.
What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve ever created?
I have two: the African Queen that I created out of cardboard. She’s the first one I created after my “art drought”. The second one is my The Continuous Fight, that took a lot of planing and intentionality. It made me step out of my comfort zone. It’s very deep and meaningful. It took a lot of volunteers, who believed in my art and my message. I am very grateful. I realized that I, as an artist, actually have a following and platform. What are you trying to communicate with your art? Right now my art is a little political. It’s a representation of myself as an African American woman. I depict how it feels to be one in the world we live in. My art depicts beauty, love, pain, and strength.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
Photography! I love capturing landscape pictures. When I drive home, I take pictures of the sunsets and sunrises, But with my I phone. Unfortunately, I am unable to capture the beauty and quality of what I see. My next big investment will be a camera. I have a new idea for a collage series, that includes photography. Until, I get the proper training, I’m going to collaborate. What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative? I’ve never had advice, just a great experience. I had an art teacher in high school, who taught me to be myself. She trusted me as a student and allowed me to go “outside of the box” when ever she gave us an assignment. My final pieces were always bigger and far more elaborate then my classmates. Her trust in me allowed me to trust myself and my creative process. She’s the one that convinced my family that I was actually talented and I could be an Artist! My freshman year of college, I tried to step “out of the box” with my final and my teacher shot me down. She told me if I was in a graduate program it would be perfect, but I was only an I undergrad. She said my fellow students would not understand my project if presented it during the critique. I trusted myself and did it anyways. It was an amazing feeling, because I didn’t conform or restrict myself. Most importantly, My classmates understood my art piece completely. I am very grateful for my art teacher Ms. P, if it wasn’t for her, I’m not sure, if I would be the artist I am today.
Thanks Aija, It’s Been A Pleasure To Interview You.
If You Enjoyed This Post And Found It Helpful, Please Use The Buttons Below To Share With Others Who Might Do Too. This Helps Support And Spread The Word About My Writing.